"Buffy the Vampire Slayer Volume 1: The Long Way Home" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James "Spez" Ferguson
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Originally published as Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Season 8) #1 - 5
Written by Joss Whedon
Art by Georges Jeanty (interior) and Jo Chen (covers)
2007, 136 pages
Trade paperback released on October 31st, 2007
When Buffy the Vampire Slayer went off the air in 2003, everyone figured that was about it when it came to the Chosen One and her gang of Scoobies. Leave it to someone like Joss Whedon to resurrect the series in comic book form four years later. Buffy Season Eight splashed on the scene in 2007 and it was like they picked up right where they left off. Well, sort of. The writing is exactly what we've come to love and expect from Whedon, especially in the Buffyverse. This story starts out a year after the last episode of the TV series.
After releasing that Slayer mojo into all the candidates around the world, Buffy has spent the past 12 months assembling these would-be slayers into a force to be reckoned with. Xander oversees the operation out of a castle in Scotland like Nick Fury in S.H.I.E.L.D., complete with eye patch. They are trained in various forms of combat, but teamwork is a major part of their curriculum. Also on staff are a handful of witches and physics. This is like the Initiative if it was run by hot chicks.
All is not well in the world though. Despite Buffy's efforts there's a new Big Bad that's starting to get noticed. Known only as Twilight (not to be confused with the sparkly vampires), his followers bear a strange symbol that looks like "a frown turned upside down and then turned upside down again." (Gotta love that Whedon dialogue.) Little else is known about Twilight, but just enough mystery is brought up to make it interesting.
Meanwhile, the government has noticed Buffy's operation and a rogue branch of the military is trying to hunt her down. They've teamed up with some people from Buffy's past to try to break up what they see as a very real threat. I'm not going to get into who these people are because it's a great surprise. Plus it does a great job of tying up some loose ends...and some ends that I thought were tied up pretty tightly too.
The covers for this series by Jo Chen are simply beautiful. Each one is presented before its corresponding issue and it really makes the pencils by Georges Jeanty look like crap in comparison. I don't hate Jeanty's art, but it just feels very blah. It's run-of-the-mill. It's ordinary. It's basically very forgettable. The covers are all great and I can't remember a single specific panel from the book, especially with Whedon's outstanding writing shining through. Sure, Jeanty gets the likenesses of each actor correct but I'm just not thrilled with the art. His demons and otherworldly creatures are mildly better, but overall it's nothing to write home about.
Season Eight of Buffy in comic book form works. The story that Whedon starts to tell here could not have been done on television, much less on the limited budgets offered by The CW. There are big explosions, a zombie army, and not to mention the entire slayer crew. Oh, and Dawn is a giant. Like Jack and the Bean Stalk giant. This volume collects the first five issues of the series. The first four are part of an arc while the fifth issue is a stand alone story. If compared to episodes of the TV series, I'd say that those first four issues represent at least two episodes and the fifth issue would be its own. Think of it as the oversized season premiere to Season Eight. And it's just getting started.
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